Julie Whelan <br/>DKH Legacy Trust Julie Whelan
DKH Legacy Trust

“We inspire young people and unlock life chances for them by improving their skills knowledge and self belief through support and mentoring projects with sporting champions”

Where did your personal inspiration, entrepreneurial/leadership purpose come from – what shaped your views?

As an individual there are some key things that have shaped me –the first is growing up in the Far East. I attended numerous schools sometimes moving monthly and what they gave me when I moved back to England as a young teenager was resilience.

The second I would have to say has been the privilege of working with Dame Kelly-until you have worked alongside a double gold medallist you won’t have experienced the drive, determination and sheer willpower that I have seen in her. It certainly inspires you and makes you look at challenges in a whole different way.

What is the purpose of DKH Legacy Trust?

DKH Legacy TrustDame Kelly Holmes is best known for her international athletics career.

Kelly wanted to create a legacy from her athletics career that would benefit the young people who look up to, and are inspired by elite sports performers like herself.

Having seen firsthand the difference that world class sports performers can make to kids' lives, Dame Kelly set up her own charity, the DKH Legacy Trust. Its mission is to 'create life chances for young people'. 

Uniquely, every young person that the Trust supports has the chance to work with, be inspired by, and learn from the experience of world class sports stars.

The charity's team of Olympians, Paralympians, World, Commonwealth and European Champions know what it takes to overcome adversity, and still have the will to succeed, not only in sport, but in life to.

The charity was set up in July 2008 and we have very quickly become known for the strength of our partnership working across the voluntary and public sectors.  All of our projects and activities have at the heart of them the inspiration of sporting role models as mentors and ambassadors.  We are beginning to be recognised as the organisation that provides a support mechanism for the retiring sport performer as they transition from competitive sport.

Our strap line is;

“To create life chances for young people”

Our current mission;

“We inspire young people and unlock life chances for them by improving their skills knowledge and self belief through support and mentoring projects with sporting champions”

In all that we do we want the work of the Trust to embody the “brand” of Dame Kelly so that we are recognised as;

  • Delivering high quality activity and support for young people with evidence of impact
  • The organisation that harnesses the expertise and skills of sports performers and supports them as they transition out of completive sport 

What have been your critical lessons learnt along your entrepreneurial journey?

  • You need to grow a hundred seeds/networks to get 10to flourish - this was certainly the case as we were trying to secure our early sponsors
  • Develop a loyal and “go to”set of confidantes around you - as along the way you need help, will make mistakes and need advice-in the early days when there was only two of us this was invaluable and saved us so much time in legal and HR developments
  • Don’t shaft people - what goes around comes around. Be honest, upfront but keep your integrity intact-people matter and we have developed a reputation to work collaboratively but also to hold our own ground in the third sector. I had never realised how territorial the voluntary sector was and in the first year how unnerved others would be at our arrival. We have managed to win over organisations, bid confidently in partnership and keep our own reputation and delivery clear to
  • Don’t be afraid to change, stay flexible - we changed our mission twice in one year but it was the right thing to do


What are the characteristics that in your experience entrepreneurs require now and in the future? 

  • Tenacity and being brave!  - Putting your head up, be willing to have a go, stumble, make mistakes and succeed in front of others.
  • Influencing skills
  • Dogged determination and a thick skin -  don’t let things get to you and don’t take things to heart
  • Creativityand seeing things differently


What would be your 5 top tips for purposeful entrepreneurs? 

  • Don’t wait for somebody to say it is ok, get on with it!
  • Demand Excellence – Ensure staff are committed to and understand your vision.  Passionate, committed staff have a tendency to rub off on people.  There is nothing like a junior intern who runs circles around everyone to get people hyped up and raises the bar!  Stay involved in the hiring process as long as you possibly can.
  • Making the most of your networks -Networking isn’t just about knowing the right people, it’s also about knowing that the right people know you.  People do business with people, and if you can convince them you are able to deliver, you’re already ahead of the game
  • Get your hands dirty –Early on when we were developing our charity programmes we all got involved from beginning to end. This has certainly helped as we have started to review , grow and ditch aspects of our work
  • Plan some thinking time into every day, or at least every week - looking beyond the current detail is crucial to grow.

DKH Logo

Julie Whelan

Chief Executive Officer 


DKH Legacy Trust

cialis for women in canada viagra in canada legal